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2011-2012 Honors Student
Name: Zachariah Rivenbark '12
Honors in: History
Hometown: Center Valley, Pa.
Major/minor: History /Political Science
Title of project: The Early Revolutionaries of Northampton County, Pa., 1774-1777
Project advisor: Dr. James Paxton
Abstract or brief description: My Honors project deals with the role of ordinary citizens of Northampton County in the formative years of the American Revolution. I focus on two groups, the Committee of Observation and Inspection and the Pennsylvania Association (a group that functioned similarly to a militia). These groups worked to protect and build support for not only the revolution against Great Britain, but also to abolish the provincial government that favored royal authority. The early revolutionaries policed their local communities in order to seek out potential threats to the success of the “dual revolutions” of 1776.
How did you get interested in your topic? My topic is the spiritual successor to an independent study I worked on in the spring 2011 semester, also with Dr. Paxton. I studied the actions of a similar group in Philadelphia, known as the Committee of Privates, and their pivotal role in the dissolution of the provincial government.
In addition, I feel that a lot of myths exist about the actual events of the American Revolution. My research is an effort to provide a more accurate interpretation of the revolution.
Do you intend to research your topic further? If so, how? This Honors project actually brings about a conclusion to my current explorations of revolutionary history. I am still interested in many other areas, however; this project aroused my curiosity in the Seven Year’s War (nearly two decades prior to the revolution) and how it affected this area. On an unrelated note, I’d also like to look into local figure General Harry Trexler and the legacy of his conservation policies in the Lehigh Valley.
How did you benefit academically by conducting research/participating in honors? The Honors project allowed me to experience the proper management of a yearlong research and writing effort. The experience greatly enhanced my ability to research, primarily with regards to online databases and primary source collections. It allowed me to further hone my writing skills and prepare for the future challenges of law school.
How has the department (or faculty advisor) prepared you for the future? The history department did an excellent job of teaching me the necessary skills to succeed in my area of study. Furthermore, the opportunity to work individually with my professors allowed me to further develop skills and challenge myself in ways that enhanced my education.
What advice do you have for other students interested in Honors? You should focus on something that interests you personally; you should enjoy the Honors project experience and the commitment it requires on your part. It is an invaluable experience and an excellent challenge for Moravian College students to test their academic abilities.
My future plans: I plan on attending law school next year. I’d like to study environmental law; wildlife management and protection is an interest of mine that I would like to pursue as a potential career.